Wealth Minerals Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:WML)(FRANKFURT:EJZ), has announced that it has initiated an aggressive exploration, resource verification and expansion program at its high-grade Rodeo de los Molles rare earth element project in San Luis Province, Argentina.
Additionally, the Company has retained the services of Alastair Neill, P.Eng, MBA, an expert on rare earth elements, as a strategic advisor.
Key highlights of Rodeo de los Moles include:
- Largest undeveloped REE project in South America – which, based on historical data remains open for expansion in all directions. The historical geologic resource estimate of 5.6 Mt at 2.1% Total Rare Element Oxide (TREO) was prepared in 1992 and is based on more than 6,000 metres of shallow RAB drilling as well as metallurgical testwork. This historical resource estimate is considered relevant by the Company, both for the purposes of the Company's decision to acquire the property and to guide the Company in formulating an exploration program for the property. However, the Company cautions that the resource estimate was prepared before the introduction of NI 43-101, and is therefore historical in nature and the Company is not treating such resources as a current resource under NI 43-101. Investors are further cautioned that a qualified person has not yet completed sufficient work to be able to verify the historical resources, and therefore they should not be relied upon.
- Due diligence sampling by the Company has confirmed the tenor of REE mineralization. Three representative rock-chip samples selectively collected from the outcropping mineralization returned assays ranging from 7.4 to 35.5% TREO (with a heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) component ranging from 5.0 to 55.5%) and 0.15% to 0.92% U3O8. A fourth sample, collected from an apparently unmineralized outcrop, returned a value of 0.11% TREO and 12.1 ppm U, thereby highlighting the potential for the expansion of the known mineralized zones. Outcropping mineralization remains open in all directions.
- Highly favourable bastnasite host rock mineralization similar to known producing mines and suggestive of relatively straight-forward geometallurgy for the deposit type.
- Excellent infrastructure – paved road within 2 kilometres, workable all year round, and electrical transmission lines within 8 kilometres of the property.
The primary objective of the two phase exploration campaign now underway is to rapidly complete a detailed surface assessment of the known zones of mineralization and to identify new zones in advance of an aggressive resource confirmation and expansion drill program. Phase I work proposed to be completed includes a complete geochemical and initial geometallurgical study to fully characterize the nature of REE mineralization, channel saw sampling of outcropping rare earth element mineralization at the primary showings to provide detail on the REE distribution as well as geological mapping and prospecting to expand upon the known resource. This phase is anticipated to cost approximately $300,000 and take three months. Phase II would consist of approximately 1,000 metres of drilling and is expected to cost approximately $250,000 and take approximately one month. The Company has the funds to complete the program.
REE Specialist Retained
Mr. Alastair Neill, P.Eng., MBA, is the former Vice-President/General Manager, Rare Earth Division, and Vice-President, Business Development, for AMR Technologies Inc. (now Neo Material Technologies Inc.) and a leading expert in rare earth elements. Mr. Neill brings over 15 years of direct rare earth experience with downstream end-users in Korea, Japan, Europe and North America and with suppliers in China. He holds a master of business administration from York University and a bachelor of engineering in material science from the University of Western Ontario.
Henk van Alphen, President and CEO of Wealth, stated: "We are very pleased to welcome Alastair as an advisor to Wealth. His extensive rare earth element experience will provide strong guidance as we advance our Rodeo de los Molles REE project towards the resource definition stage."
The RdlM property consists of 6 minas, totalling 72 hectares, and is located approximately 300 kilometres southwest of the City of Cordoba and 200 kilometres northeast of the city of San Luis. The property is ideally located in terms of access and infrastructure (there are 13.2 and 33 kW power lines within 8 kilometres of the property) and the climate allows work year round. The Company is presently designing an aggressive exploration program to verify and potentially expand upon the historical resource.
The deposit is hosted in strongly altered (fenitized) alkalic igneous rocks of the Las Chacras Coloradas igneous complex. REE mineralization (bastnasite) at RdlM is similar to REE mineralization at the Mountain Pass REE deposit in California, which contains total proven reserves of 88.0 million pounds of REO (source - Molycorp, Inc.). The Mountain Pass mine operated from 1952 to 2002 and produced most of the world's REE's from 1965 to 1985.
Rare Earth Elements
The rare earth element (REE) group is considered to include the 15 lanthanide elements: lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pm), promethium (Pr) (does not occur naturally), neodymium (Nd), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), and lutetium (Lu). The element yttrium (Y) is also included as it has similar chemical properties. Total rare earth oxides (TREO) refers to the 15 rare earth elements lanthanum to lutetium plus yttrium expressed as oxides. Heavy rare earth oxides (HREO) refers to the total of yttrium plus europium to lutetium, as oxides, as a percentage of TREO.
REE deposits tend to occur in two sub-groups:
- Light rare earth element (LREE) enriched deposits which include La, Ce, Pr, Nd and Sm.
- Heavy rare earth element (HREE) enriched deposits which include Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, and Y.
Sometimes called the "clean energy", "tech" or "green" metals, the unique physical, chemical and light-emitting properties of the rare earths make them indispensable in modern technologies such magnets, hybrid cars, wind turbines, computers and cell phones. The price of rare earth products has increased significantly over the past three years due to increased demand and tightening supplies, particularly so for the less abundant heavy rare earths.
Qualified Person & QA/QC Controls
R. Scott Heffernan, M.Sc., P.Geol., Wealth's Vice-President, Exploration, and a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, has supervised the preparation of the scientific and technical information that forms the basis for this news release. Mr. Heffernan is not independent of Wealth by virtue of being an officer and shareholder and a holder of incentive stock options.
Wealth's activities to date at RdlM have been supervised by R. Scott Heffernan, P.Geol., Wealth's Vice-President, Exploration, who is responsible for all aspects of the work, including the quality control/quality assurance program. On-site personnel at the project rigorously collected and tracked the due diligence samples, which were then sealed and shipped to the Acme Laboratories S.A. laboratory facilities in Mendoza, Argentina for preparation and then forwarded to Acme Analytical Laboratories Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, for geochemical analysis by 'Group 1T' - 4 Acid Digestion Ultratrace Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Acme Laboratories S.A.'s quality system complies with the requirements for the International Standard ISO 9001:2000 and Acme Analytical Laboratories Ltd.'s quality system complies with the requirements for the International Standard ISO 9001:2008. Analytical accuracy and precision are monitored by the analysis of reagent blanks, reference material and replicate samples. Quality control is further assured by the use of international and in-house standards.
Laboratory results are received in parts per million uranium. The conversion factor used to convert parts per million uranium to pounds per short ton U3O8 is 1.179, which was verified with the Saskatchewan Research Council (ppm uranium x 1.179 = ppm U308; 10,000 ppm uranium = 1% = 20 lbs/ton uranium).
Source: Wealth Minerals Ltd.